At midnight on the 20th May 2016 Leslie BINNS, a former soldier, was climbing Mount Everest, and was about 500 metres from the summit. Leslie, who had lost an eye in an IED attack in Afghanistan, saw a woman above him trying to negotiate an obstacle when she fell. Leslie reached out and “rugby tackled” her. The woman was showing signs of cerebral oedema by taking off her protective clothing, so Leslie zipped up her jacket, put her gloves back on and gave her some of his oxygen as her tank was empty. He watched her go on a little way down the slope but soon realized she was too exhausted. He abseiled down to her and gave her a new oxygen tank. He and a Sherpa attached themselves to the woman and they descended a fixed line. When the fixed line stopped they traversed for about 30 metres to where another line continued downwards. Visibility was almost nil and snow had covered climbers’ tracks so they could not find the start of the next fixed line. They saw a man about 100 metres down the mountain, who was waving & shouting. They got down to him using crampons but were disappointed to find he too was in real trouble. The four of them then clipped themselves together and continued to descend, with Leslie leading. Both the two sick climbers kept collapsing so progress was very slow. Eventually there was a break in the weather and the Sherpa unclipped, found the fixed line, and then descended abandoning Leslie with the others. Leslie unclipped himself and tried to retrieve the fixed line, but found it impossible. Suddenly all three of them began to slip down the mountain, but eventually Leslie got a crampon to bite. He found the two climbers nearby in a crevasse. Deciding he had to help the women first, he moved her by “piggy back” all the way down to Camp 4. By now Leslie was exhausted, having been climbing for nine hours with no sustenance. He put her into his own sleeping bag, used a flask of tea to warm her hands, and then he passed out. Waking an hour later, he got into the sleeping bag as he too was now suffering badly from the cold. At daylight he heard voices and went out to find an American climbing team, so he told them about the male climber who was still up the mountain. They rescued the man but he later died on the descent. Realising he had sacrificed his chances of reaching the summit, Leslie set off down the mountain on his own.
For his actions that night Leslie BINNS was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s Silver Medal.